A recent article from Axios titled “The new rite of passage: Young, busy, and still single” shows that young adults throughout the world are delaying marriage and children. According to this research, the percentage of adults who have never married has been steadily increasing since around the year 2000, and people are getting married and becoming parents later in life.
There are several factors contributing to this trend:
1) People are marrying for different reasons now (love) than they did in the past (economic)
As we discussed in “What Drives People to Marriage”, people want to fall in love and then get married. The financial support that marriage offers used to be a necessity for women and love was a luxury, but as women have become more educated, joined the workforce and become financially independent, marriage isn’t necessary anymore. This gives people the chance to really fall in love. They don’t want to settle for a marriage of convenience anymore.
2) Marriage feels like an inconvenience to many people
In fact, it’s almost like the idea of marriage itself has become an inconvenience. You have to sacrifice a lot of things and make a lot of compromises, and the data shows us that people would prefer to not compromise on things like building their career, finding financial stability, finishing their education, or making a life in a new town. People are choosing to do these things independently, even if it delays marriage. Once they have all of this figured out, they're more ready for marriage. Samantha Fishbein, co-founder of Betches, told Axios “many people are choosing to settle down after they have...their life in check.”
3) There are more choices, coupled with less pressure to choose
The cultural pressure to get married and have kids isn’t so strong anymore, which likely contributes to us being single longer. Dating sites set out to help our dating lives. Actually, one-third of all new marriages between 2005-2012 began online. Dating apps, which seem more millennial-friendly, have tripled in revenue in the past couple years. However people choose to start dating, whether online or offline, the possibilities seem endless. With so many people to choose from, we expect to fall in love and know everything about a person before getting married. Maybe this is so we don’t make a mistake we’ll later regret, or maybe it’s to minimize the chances of divorce, or maybe it’s just because we want the best kind of love out there for us and are willing to wait until we find it.
With all of these changes, it's no surprise that the traditional markers of adulthood are changing. The average age that a mother had her first child in 2017 was 26, and in 1980 it was 22. The average age when a woman got married in 2017 was 27, compared to 22 in 1980.
Ultimately, we all want different things and make different choices. And while it's interesting to see the trends, there's no reason to subject our lives to society’s timeline. After all, we’re people, not analytical trends!